London community requests FOI to protect Greenwich Park from ‘pruning’

London local campaign group, NoGOE (No to Greenwich Olympic Equestrian Events), has addressed a Freedom of Information Act request to Greenwich Council with a regard to tree 1253 in Greenwich Park.

 

Tree 1253 Not chopped down- just pruned

 

NoGOE discovered that in spite of London 2012 Organizing Committee (LOCOG) promises being made on not cutting down the trees and returning the park to its current condition after the Games are to be broken. Now, they seek to find out “how and why and by whom, and on whose authority, tree 1253 has been cut down.”

Residents fear Greenwich Park, being the oldest Royal Park, as well as listed Grade 1 UNESCO World Heritage Site, will be “wrecked” after the Olympic Games. This is due to 72 trees planned to be further “pruned” to allow a 11-foot clearance for horses, in addition to other serious damage to the plants in the park.

Initially, the LOCOG planning application for Greenwich Park did not included the tree survey, but NoGOE managed to obtain a tree schedule under FOI from Greenwich Council. It clearly shows a handful of trees located alongside the proposed route of the cross-country course, and these are 1254, 1256 and 279. Some of them are ancient and veterans, as NoGOE points out.

The planning application also shows information about the grassland being re-opened as late as in November 2015, which enhances the conflict between  NoGOE and LOCOG even more.

NoGOE members, and among them the FOI request issuer Rachel Mawhood, believe the Olympic Equestrian events in 2012 should not be held at Greenwich Park, as it is not a suitable site for this mega event.

Will Connell, Performance Director of the British Equestrian Team, said: “LOCOG has no intention of cutting down trees or closing the park for a year, and I think that local residents should be proud that such an exciting Olympic sport will be on their doorstep in 2012.”

LOCOG in its planning application for the venue announced:

The entire park will only be closed for a four week period from 6th July to 3rd August in 2012;
The children’s playground and the majority of the flower garden within the park will remain open throughout this four week period with the exception of cross country day;
There are no planned residential road closures, and no trees will be cut down;
After the Games, the park will be returned to the condition in which it was received.

NoGOE fear they cannot trust LOCOG, as one tree has already been cut down with no prior warning.

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McDonald’s volunteers to find out their Olympic roles this week

As initial offers for the volunteering roles during the 2012 Olympics are sent out this week, some successful 10,000 Game Makers have two weeks to accept them. McDonald’s anticipates the replies particularly impatiently, because the fast-food giant is in charge of providing training for the volunteers.

 

However, it is just the beginning of a long process of filling up all of the 70,000 unpaid positions for the Olympics. Over the next few months thousands of e-mails will be sent to applicants, aiming to inform everyone about the progress of their application by the end of this year. LOCOG officials also claim the last interviews are scheduled for March, 2012 and the last role may be taken even as late as April, 2012. All candidates have to undergo security checks before signing the final contract.

The first volunteers who received conditional offers are inter alia: Nader Mozakka from North West London who will be an NOC Assistant in the Athletes’ Village; Maggie Hendry from Dundee, Scotland who will be a Physiotherapist at North Greenwich Arena at Games time; Erin Morgan from Newry, Northern Ireland who will be an Event Services Team Member at the Olympic Park and Charlotte Evans from Caerleon, Wales who has been assigned a role as an Event Services Team Member for Wimbledon.

LOCOG chairman Sebastian Coe stressed the importance of the offers made, as it marks the new stage of the Game Makers programme. He said: “It has been a privilege for my team to meet and interview so many enthusiastic and dedicated people from right across the UK who would like to volunteer with us and make the Games a success for athletes, media and spectators alike.”

Jill McDonald, UK chief executive of McDonald’s, added: “We aim to help provide the volunteers with the skills, knowledge and confidence to deliver an outstanding level of hospitality at the Olympic and Paralympic Games next year.”

The “McJobs” offered are perhaps not the world’s most desirable employment, although initially promised to be financially rewarding, will be unpaid for the 2012 Olympics. Spectacle has already covered McJobs, which can be found in the Olympics 2012 section of Spectacle’s Blog.

Unsurprisingly, the official volunteer t-shirts will not be the only place where golden arches will be seen at the 2012 Olympics, as McDonald’s also obtained a monopoly on food sold during the Games. This has stirred up a debate on public health and well-being, which could be argued as not being on McDonald’s priority list. This American meal brand plans to open the largest McDonald in the world in the Olympic Park, Stratford. It is also interesting to know that there will be no kitchens provided to athletes, who will be forced to dine in the dining halls catered also by McDonald’s.

Obviously, McDonald’s sponsorship is happily welcomed by LOCOG, but should their profit really overshadow the Olympic’s overriding goal of promoting a healthy lifestyle?

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